The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Literature and Culture: "Intro to Black Music Studies" Afro-Am 151 (Gen Ed ALDU)  Fall 2019

Students will live in Thoreau Hall in the Southwest residential area.

Read what Fall 2019 instructor Olivia Ekeh has to say about the course: 

“Everyone’s a critic” especially when it comes to music. But how does one critically engage music? More specifically, where does one even begin to build an analytical understanding of a genre of music? In this course, we will approach Black genres of music from historical, cultural and literary perspectives. Further, we will discuss the ways in which Black music permeates other forms of culture such as literature and media (film, fashion, dancing, etc.). Topics will include the simultaneous evolution of the blues and jazz, the radicalization of jazz after WWII, the sexual politics of soul and funk music and the creation of hip-hop culture from the remnants of disco. By the end of this course you will be able to identify and define characteristics that exemplify a basic knowledge of the Black music genres explored during the course. This knowledge can serve as a foundation for further study in music, history and/or Afro Am studies.

Grassroots in America - Afro Am 170 (Gen Ed DUHS) Fall 2019

Students will live together in Moore Hall in the Southwest residential area.

Read what Fall 2019 instructor Kiara Hill has to say about the course:

This is an interdisciplinary course that explores the political and cultural impact of the Black Power Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Using a variety of texts that reflect a range of philosophies on women’s issues, Black liberation, and cultural nationalism, students will examine the visual and literary aesthetics of the Black Arts Movement, as well as the many ways Black Power was imagined by political groups and cultural organizations. This course will pay special attention to the ways that race, gender, class, and sexuality informed the experiences of Black women during this period. Student assignments will be evaluated with these elements in mind.

"Hunger in the Global Economy": Resource Economics 121:  (GenEd SBDG) Fall 2019

Students will live together in Wheeler Hall which is located in the Central residential area.

Read what Fall 2019 Felipe Quezada Escalona has to say about the course

In this course, we will examine the real-world problem of hunger through methods of analysis used in social sciences, with a particular focus on techniques developed in economics. Economics as a social science provides us with basic analytical tools with which to look at the world.

We will examine the inter-connectedness of the global economy and how the production, consumption and distribution of food fits into it. We will draw upon qualitative and quantitative evidence to grasp this complex challenge. Our main goal would be to answer fundamental questions, such as:

  • Where and why does hunger exist? And why does it persist?
  • What policy responses have been formulated? What are the limitations of these responses?

Hunger (i.e. chronic under-nutrition) is one of the most important questions that we face today as a society, if not the most important. Human population is expected to increase in 2 billion by 2050. This estimate makes us wonder if the planet will have enough resources to feed the entire world population in a sustainable way. Even if we have plenty of resources, hunger and under-nutrition could still be present due to unequal distribution of resources within and between countries.

By the end of the course, we will have an understanding of the central issues and familiarity with the key debates related to hunger in our global economy.

"Ancient Civilizations": Anthropology 150 (GenEd HSDG) Fall 2019 

Students will live together in Mary Lyon Hall in the Northeast residential area.

Read what Fall 2019 instructor, Priscilla Mollard has to say about the course: 

In this course, we will use archeological data to explore a range of civilizations in the Near East and the Americas.  We will study small-scale foraging societies, the emergence of the very first cities and states, and even a few civilizations that seem to fit somewhere "in between."  By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • see cultures around the world with an appreciation for their internal structures and values
  • understand how people gain power and maintain it
  • comprehend various levels of social structure and how they might impact each other
  • recognize hierarchical social relations taking place around you, and the social contracts that maintain them
  • both appreciate and critique how archeology interprets the past through a limited set of physical remains

While we will be focusing on the past through the physical records people left behind, we will always attempt to take the practices we see and relate them to our own human experience.  Can we learn something from the first societies who domesticated crops, built religious temples, or began creating different social classes?  In this course, we can - and we will!  We will do this through interactive, engaged discussions.  One week you may have to debate the merits of farming with a group of foragers- it's harder than you think - and another week you may be engaged in a trade war with a neighboring Ancient Maya chiefdom. 

With these activities, you'll think through the options available to people in the past and begin to understand the world as they saw it.

As a RAP course, you will also gain insight into how a course is structured, how assignments are constructed, and what skills professors in similar courses are helping you build.  As an introduction to similar college courses, you will leave the class with a clear vision of why it was designed, what you learned from it, and what you can do with that knowledge in your own life.

Cultural Explorations RAP